Cookie and Boris are two Chow mix dogs that couldn’t be more opposite from each other. Although they are siblings and both have beautiful coats, that’s where the similarities stop. As described by their owner, Cookie would be the outgoing, slightly trampy, homecoming queen who loves to give everyone she meets, kisses and hugs. Boris, on the other hand, would be a nervous Nellie, cautious and nervous around new things and people.
With knowledge of their personalities in hand, I knew that Cookie would be a ham to photograph, while Boris would probably be a challenge. Having worked with dozens of shy/anxious dogs though, I’ve picked up a few skills and tricks over the years. So how did I do it? Well, I did what I do best, which is being extremely patient and wooing him with delicious treats. The first 20 minutes were spent feeding him little bits of treats and giving lots of positive praise. I also started to slowly click my shutter every time he got a treat to start de-sensitizing him to the sound + creating a positive association of that sound with a treat.
At first, he freaked out and ran away every time I pointed the camera to him, but eventually his love of food helped overcome his fear. I probably went through 100 bogus frames (e.g. frames of his back or looking/running away), before he became comfortable enough to start looking at the camera. By the end of the session (and after all those treats), I want to say that Boris almost looked a little sad that I was leaving.
Cookie, of course, true to her nature, gave plenty of smiles to the camera, and kisses to her humans. :)